Western Michigan University hopes to recoup a badge of environmental honor: the distinction of being a Tree Campus, as defined by the nonprofit Arbor Day Foundation.
By 2018, Western was a longtime participant in the program, which recognizes tree-friendly schools and recertifies them annually. But that fall, amid protests, the university cut down dozens of mature trees on a hill near Stadium Drive to make way for new housing.
A WMUK investigation found that Western had a “tree care plan” as required by Tree Campus USA, but didn’t follow it during the clearcutting. University officials said the plan was never formally approved.
Steve Gilsdorf is the Senior Director of Operations in WMU's Facilities department. He says the school has a new tree care policy.
“It’s been supported through our vice president, the president and the Board, so we have a true tree plan in place now,” he said.
“We want to reaffirm our commitment to the campus, to the community and for the environment,” he added.
Gilsdorf says he doesn’t know if the new protocol would have changed anything had it been in place in 2018.
“It’s hard to say because that was in the past, kind of thing, and I wasn’t really involved with that project at that time.”
He says the state arborist is reviewing Western's application.